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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2004

The effect of Equex STM paste and sperm morphology on post-thaw survival of cat epididymal spermatozoa

Axner E, Hermansson U, Linde-Forsberg C


Cryopreservation of epididymal spermatozoa is a potentially valuable tool for preserving genetic material from individuals of endangered species that die accidentally. Improvement of sperm-freezing protocols would increase the efficacy of gene banking from endangered felids, and the domestic cat can be used as a model for the wild felids. Addition of the detergent Equex STM paste to semen freezing extenders has been found to improve post-thaw survival and longevity of spermatozoa from various species but has never been tested for cat spermatozoa. Spermatozoa from cats with a high percentage of morphologically abnormal spermatozoa are more susceptible for cold injury and osmotic stress than spermatozoa from normozoospermic cats. Therefore, the aims of this study were to investigate: (a) if addition of Equex STM paste to a semen freezing extender would improve post-thaw sperm survival, and (b) if there is a relation between the percentage of morphologically normal spermatozoa and cryopreservation induced damage in cat epididymal spermatozoa. Spermatozoa harvested from epididymides of 10 male cats were frozen in a Tris egg yolk extender with or without the addition of Equex STM paste (0.5%, v/v). Sperm motility, membrane integrity and acrosomal status were evaluated immediately after harvesting, and at 0, 2, 4 and 6 h post-thaw. Sperm membrane integrity and acrosomal status were also evaluated after cooling to 4 degreesC, just before freezing. Cooling did not cause significant damage to the spermatozoa, whereas freezing damaged sperm membranes and acrosomes. Addition of Equex to the freezing extender had a significant positive effect on the percentage of intact acrosomes immediately after thawing (P < 0.05), but had a negative effect on the longevity of the spermatozoa; the percentages of membrane intact and motile spermatozoa being significantly lower in the presence of Equex than in the controls at 6 h after thawing. The percentage of morphologically normal spermatozoa was not found to be correlated with either cryopreservation induced acrosome or plasma membrane damage, or with post-thaw motility (P > 0.05). The results clearly show that addition of Equex STM paste in the freezing extender protects the acrosomes of cat epididymal spermatozoa during the freezing-thawing process, but reduces the sperm longevity during in vitro incubation at 38 degreesC. Our results also indicate that the percentage of morphologically normal epididymal spermatozoa is not correlated with cryopreservation induced sperm damage using the described freezing protocol. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved

Published in

Animal Reproduction Science
2004, volume: 84, number: 1-2, pages: 179-191

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Clinical Sciences

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